Home Blog Uncategorized Time to defend the term “hustle”

Time to defend the term “hustle”


A couple weeks ago, long,-time blogger, Mark Schaefer, got a lot of people going by bringing up a significant lightning-rod topic: the intolerance of the “hustle” culture. In the post, Schaefer talks about “Hustle” proponents and how they tend to look down on people who do not chase their dream or job hop for the sake of climbing the ladder.

Schaefer went on to talk about the many reasons people would NOT want to “hustle” and a growing “anti-hustle” movement. This particular quote struck a chord with me:

“Some people are destined to be teachers and nurses and engineers. Thank goodness. And just because they’re not turning their lives over to the hustle doesn’t mean they’re not wonderful and worthy. It doesn’t mean they’re “making excuses.”

Now, I agree with a lot of what Schaefer talks about in this post. The “hustle” culture seems to have morphed into something that’s not always productive. And, it’s led by polarizing people like Gary V.

That said, I’m not ready to write off “hustle” as a key attribute. I continue to believe there is a ton of value is “hustling”. To me, the word “hustle” means:

  • Exerting maximum energy as often as you can. I grew up playing basketball. I was tall, but skinny. And, truth be told, I didn’t have a lot of talent. But, I had a ton of “want to.” I was a gym rat. At least that’s what my coaches told me. Essentially, I made my living off diving for loose balls, playing really tough defense and going after every rebound like my life depended on it. I was giving maximum effort all the time–in games, in practice, in walk-throughs. I was the hustle guy. Same goes in my business life. I’ve never been the smartest guy. But, I’ll be damned if anyone is going to out-work me. Maximum effort, 100 percent of the time. I don’t see how on earth that’s a bad thing in the business world. It definitely hasn’t been for me yet.
  • Raising your hand regularly. In the business world, hustle also means going above and beyond consistently. To me, this usually takes the form of raising your hand and taking on extra work. Projects you’re interested in. Volunteer opportunities within your company. Whatever the opportunity, hustle players jump at it.
  • Taking on extra assignments outside your job scope. I’m not an executive, or even a manager. But, if I were, the one phrase that would absolutely drive me nuts is this: “That’s not in my job description.” I challenge you to find a high performer who has ever uttered these words. Hustle players embrace extra assignments–they don’t run from them. Hustling in business means taking on more than you can handle. I know that’s not always an ideal thing to do–certainly there are times where you’re going to want to manage your workload a bit more. But, hustle players who adopt this mindset get to their end goal faster, in my experience.

In the post I mentioned above, Schaefer quotes Nicole Purvy, an entrepreneur, podcaster, and author of the new book The AntiHustle“I absolutely loathe the word hustle. If you look up hustle in the dictionary, it means ‘to swindle.’ I don’t want to be associated with that.”

See, that’s taking it way too far. But, this whole discussion is taking place because the term “hustle” has become an extremely loaded word. To some, I think “hustle” is actually somewhat associated with the bro culture. For others, like me, I see it as an invaluable attribute to success for the reasons I listed above. Depends on your viewpoint, I guess.

What do you think? Has hustle really become an evil word in corporate America?



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